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System information logging tools, such as Hijack This, enumerate several parts of Internet Explorer's settings, including settings which control the way it searches. Research has led me here, giving these registry values:

${Hive}\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search\\SearchAssistant
${Hive}\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search\\CustomizeSearch
${Hive}\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\MAIN\\Search Bar
${Hive}\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\MAIN\\Search Page
${Hive}\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\\SearchURL

I'm trying to determine what behavior each of these different entries causes to an Internet Explorer installation, because just looking at them at a cursory level they do the same thing... Does any documentation exist explaining what the difference is?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

SearchAssistant This is a legacy setting. The Search Assistant is essentially a special web page that would load in a side bar for quick web searches. Below, the default MSN Search Assistant is loaded in the IE6 sidebar pane:

enter image description here

CustomizeSearch I believe this refers in some way to a toolbar to be loaded, along with the next one.

Search Bar I believe this refers in some way to a toolbar to be loaded.

Search Page This is a legacy setting which specifies the URL to open if the user selects Start->Find->On The Internet. I think this only applies to versions of Windows prior to XP.

SearchURL The URL to use when the user types something into the address bar that isn't an address, for example: where %s is filled by the user's query.

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